Once there was a double-sashed window, hanging on a wall. Now, a double-sashed window was the kind they used to have in the old-time houses, back in the days before this story began to be told. Double-sashed windows had two separate panes of glass, all framed in wood, and each pane of glass slid gracefully from the bottom to the top, independent of the other. And since each wood-framed pane of glass could only cover a half of the window at a time, one usually covered the bottom half, while the other covered the top half of the window.
When double-sashed windows were new, their wood-framed panes of glass would glide back and forth past one another easily, because of the heavy metal sash-weights which they had cleverly hidden behind their backs, so that no one could discover the secret mystery of their easy openings and closings.
But when these windows had gotten old, and the damp weather had swollen their wood frames tight against their panes of glass, they got into a sad kind of arthritic condition, and froze themselves shut, or open, depending upon how they had gotten accustomed to hanging on their walls at the time. And in time, they forgot the secret mystery of their easy openings and closings, and let go of the sash-weights that had been cleverly hidden behind their backs, and then it was all over for them.
This is what had happened to the double-sashed window in our story, long before it began to be told, and so the window had hung it seemed forever that way in the room, firmly shut, with its wood frames swollen tight against its panes of glass by the damp weather, and the forgotten sash-weights had been dropped far out of reach, and remained hidden from sight.
And this is how our window hung, shut that way, in a room that was all empty, except for a single door that was also shut, shut for as long as the window could remember. Nothing ever happened in this room, and so the window had plenty of time to study the room, and to learn all its secrets and mysteries, which were very few indeed.
The walls of the room were all of the same color and texture, the same in fact as the color and texture of the ceiling. And the floor was made of wood, but not a special kind of wood, not a wood that held any special mysterious secrets of openings and closings, like the sash-weights which the window had once taken great pride in, before they had become long forgotten, and hidden, out of reach, and out of sight.
Nothing ever happened in this room, with its one shut door and its simple wooden floor, except for the changes caused by the changes of the sunlight and the moonlight from season to season. It didn't take the window very long to understand that it wasn't the room changing at all anyway, it was only the changes in the sunlight and the moonlight in their seasons.
The window could never actually see the sun or the moon, because the courtyard outside was really very small and had very high walls all around it; and nothing ever happened in the courtyard either. There was a single shut gate, which was shut for as long as the window could remember, and nothing else; the walls and the ground were all the same texture of brick, and they were painted all the same color, and they too held no secret mysteries like the sash-weights.
The window had plenty of time to study the changes of the sunlight and the moonlight in the courtyard from season to season, and soon enough even they kept no secret mysteries from the window either. And neither the courtyard nor the room, which were the same shape and size as one another, held any secrets or mysteries from the window, which had by now forgotten even its own mysterious secrets of openings and closings.
The shut double-sashed window felt a sad kind of understanding about the shut door and the shut gate, the closed courtyard and the closed room, and the very regular changes in the sunlight and the moonlight in their seasons. The shut window even felt a sad kind of proud wisdom in knowing ahead of time just how the sunlight and the moonlight would change in the courtyard and in the room, and so nothing it seemed could ever really change, or ever have any real mystery or secrets.
Then one day, when nothing new was expected to happen, the window heard something close. It looked quickly out into the courtyard, and it quickly looked into the room, and there it saw something new.
A bright orange rug lay spread out right across the wooden floor of the room, almost covering it except for a narrow edge all around. It wasn't a special rug, outside of its brightness, and its sudden mysterious presence in the otherwise empty room, but you can understand the window's delight in having a true secret to think about.
But long before the true secret of the bright orange rug was finally discovered, comprehended and understood, on a day when nothing further was expected to happen, the window heard something close again. It looked quickly into the room, and it quickly looked out into the courtyard, and there it saw another thing that was new.
A bright blue-green carpet was spread out in the courtyard, right across the painted bricks, almost covering the entire courtyard except for a narrow edge all around. Now, this wasn't a very special carpet either, excepting of course for its brightness, and its sudden mysterious presence in the otherwise empty courtyard, but it did magnify the mystery of the secret of the bright orange rug in the otherwise empty room, and so the window found itself becoming very interested in the changing mysteries and secrets of its world indeed.
The changes in the room and in the courtyard were very surprising, and gave the window a lot to think about. The window even felt a new kind of thing, a sad, vulnerable kind of fear of these sudden changes in the room and in the courtyard, because they came unexpectedly, on days when nothing new was expected to happen.
And then, for a very long time, nothing new happened. Nothing new happened in the room, or in the courtyard, for a very long time. While the window watched, neither the door in the room nor the gate in the courtyard opened or closed, and nothing new appeared, and nothing changed, except for the sunlight and the moonlight in their seasons, and they always changed in the same old ways, without any secrets, and never mysteriously.
In time, the window grew to believe that the rug and the carpet had always been there, in the room and in the courtyard, and it forgot how their original brightness had become dulled in the regularly changing seasons of sunlight, and moonlight. In time, the window even believed that it felt a sad kind of understanding about the way in which the rug and the carpet spread themselves evenly and unrelentingly across the wooden floor of the room, and across the painted bricks of the courtyard.
Then one day, when nothing new was expected to happen, the window heard something close. It looked quickly out into the courtyard and it quickly looked into the room, and there it saw something that was new.
A bright purple picture hung on the wall of the room near the closed door. It wasn't a special picture, outside of its brightness and its sudden mysterious presence in the otherwise empty room, empty excepting the orange rug, of course; but you can understand how much the window delighted in the secret of having a new mystery to ponder, a true secret that surpassed even those of the carpet and the rug, which were now entirely forgotten, rather like the sash-weights which the window had once taken such great pride in before they had become long forgotten and hidden, out of reach, and out of sight. But the picture itself really held no secrets either, and was nothing very special anyway, except for its brightness and its sudden mysterious presence, and so the window lost all interest in the purple picture long before it could begin to understand, or be understood.
Then, suddenly, on a day when nothing further was expected to happen, the window heard something close again. It looked quickly into the room and it quickly looked out into the courtyard, and there it saw another thing that was new. A bright mirror hung on the wall of the courtyard near the shut gate, and although it only reflected the same world that the window had hung in forever, you can imagine how excited the window became in seeing it.
Seeing the mirror in the courtyard meant seeing everything the window had already seen, but backwards, and with new eyes. It meant seeing the courtyard with its shut gate and its blue-green carpet backwards, and the room with its shut door, its orange rug, and its purple picture backwards, and even the shut double-sashed window itself backwards, as though they were all somehow suddenly remembered, all there finally at the very same place and time.
Now this last thing was a true discovery of a real secret and mystery, for the window had never seen itself before, forwards or backwards. And here it was, in the mirror that hung by the shut courtyard gate, only smaller and farther away perhaps, and even backwards perhaps, but there it definitely was: a shut double-sashed window deep within the mirror, with a bright purple picture deeper yet within it.
The window gazed at the mirror for a long time, trying very hard to understand just what it was seeing. Then, in time, after a very long time in which nothing ever happened, appeared, or changed— except for the sunlight and the moonlight in their seasons, and they always changed in the same old ways, and never mysteriously— the window began to feel a sad kind of understanding about its image in the mirror and the purple picture deep within it, and about the orange rug and about the blue-green carpet, and about the shut door in the closed room, and about the shut gate in the closed courtyard, which were separated by the shut double-sashed window, which had hung forever that way on its wall. And after that, for a very long time indeed, nothing new ever happened, appeared or changed.
Then one day, on a day when nothing new was expected to happen, the window heard something open. It looked quickly out into the courtyard and it quickly looked into the room, and there it saw something that was new. A woman was standing on the orange rug in the room by the purple picture, her hand on the knob of the open door, looking out through the window into the mirror. Through the open door behind her, the window could almost see a hallway that led somewhere secret and mysterious.
And before it could think of a way to understand this new secret mystery, the window heard something else open. The window looked quickly back into the room and it quickly looked out into the courtyard, and there it saw a man standing on the blue-green carpet next to the mirror, with his hand on the latch of the open gate, looking in through the window at the woman in the room. Beyond the open gate behind him, the window could almost see a pathway that led somewhere secret and mysterious.
The man and the woman stood still that way for a very long time, looking through the window towards one another from each side and without moving, while the window wondered about this new kind of secret mystery that it felt passing though it. Then, after a very long time in which nothing new ever happened, and in which nothing new was ever expected to happen, the man and the woman approached the window. Laying their hands upon it from each side, they gently eased the window open, despite the wooden frames that had long been swollen against the panes of glass, in a sad kind of arthritic condition.
Suddenly, the double-sashed window then completely remembered the secret mysteries of the openings and the closings, and of the sash-weights that had lain so long forgotten, out of reach and out of sight. And while the breezes of the changes of the seasons now moved easily through, the man and the woman touched.
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